Steph Taylor is our Passionate PA based in Christchurch, Dorset. She joined us in November 2021 after a 20+ year career in Human Resources and Change Management.
In her role as a Passionate PA, Steph helps her clients manage their To Do Lists and create productive routines to help their businesses thrive.
In this blog post, Steph looks at the hard-finish technique – the idea of having a set time by which a task must be completed – and adds some tips to optimise your productivity.
Want to improve your productivity and focus?
Have you ever noticed how much work you can complete when there is something exciting waiting for you at the end? It could be a family outing, a date with your special someone, or a long-awaited holiday.
The anticipation sharpens your focus and drives your productivity. But you don’t have to limit this level of productivity to those special moments. By using the hard-finish technique, you can consistently achieve heightened productivity.
Set Clear Boundaries
Setting clear boundaries is the first step towards a successful hard finish. Before starting your work, or at the beginning of the day, establish a specific finish time for your tasks. Clearly communicate this deadline to your colleagues, team members, clients or even your family – and of course, yourself.
Pop that time on a post-it note and stick it in plain sight.
By doing this, you create awareness and external accountability, reinforcing your commitment to completing your work within a specified timeframe. Setting expectations and having others aware of your schedule will help you stay on track and encourage their support.
Use Time Blocking
Time blocking is a key part of achieving a hard finish too. It involves scheduling specific time slots for different tasks or activities – e.g. admin/email and ‘deep’ project work.
Multi-tasking is not productivity’s friend!
By allocating dedicated time blocks to your work, you create a structured schedule that creates focus and minimises distractions. Make sure you include breaks within your time blocks to prevent burnout and maintain mental clarity, and also add ‘creep time’ too – as things will inevitably slip into your day.
Experiment with different time periods to find what works best for you, for example, deep work is often best in the mornings when your brain is fresher. Consistency and discipline in adhering to your time blocks will enhance your productivity.
Prioritise Tasks Wisely
To achieve a hard finish, you need to manage your time and priorities effectively. Identify your most important tasks and prioritise them accordingly. Use time management techniques, such as Eisenhower’s matrix, to categorise tasks based on urgency and importance.
By focusing on high-priority activities, you will make sure your time is allocated wisely, allowing you to make significant progress toward your important goals.
Remember, not all tasks are created equal, so investing your time and energy in the right areas will deliver the greatest results.
Break It Down
Sometimes, large and overwhelming tasks can be a barrier to our progress and productivity. A helpful approach is to break down these daunting tasks into smaller, more manageable subtasks. This makes the task seem less intimidating and even allows you to measure your progress, gaining a sense of accomplishment along the way.
Here at The Passionate PA, we believe in celebrating even small victories as this can provide motivation and help to maintain momentum. Remember, progress is progress, no matter how small.
Include Transition Time
Transitioning from one task to another or shifting between work and personal life can be challenging and take more time than you think, leading to reduced productivity. It is useful to plan intentional transition activities. Allow yourself a short period to recharge and shift your mindset.
For example, taking a 5-minute break to step outside for some fresh air or going for a short walk can help clear your mind and prepare you for the next task or phase of the day – especially if you are shifting from transactional tasks to deep work.
Intentional transitions act as mental buffers; they enable you to detach from the previous task and refocus your energy on the next. By using transition periods, you enhance your ability to maintain a consistent level of productivity throughout the day.
Optimise Your Environment
Your physical environment can have a huge impact on your productivity level. Review your workspace and make adjustments that will help you to focus and concentrate.
Minimise distractions by decluttering your area and keeping only the essentials within reach – consider leaving your phone in another room whilst you are in deep work mode.
Also consider incorporating things that inspire and motivate you, such as plants, a vision board, or personal mementos. Additionally, ensure that your workspace is comfortable and ergonomically suited to prevent physical discomfort.
The hard-finish technique is a powerful tool to help you reach your productivity potential. By using this, and the top tips above, you can consistently achieve high productivity and build momentum towards achieving your goals.
Remember, the key lies in committing to a specific finish time and maintaining focus throughout the process. We encourage you to try the hard-finish technique and witness your productivity soar!
You can find out more about Steph by clicking here!
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